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tv   Dateline NBC  NBC  March 28, 2016 2:03am-3:02am EDT

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brought to you by guthy renker. defendant guilty. >> you actually think that they read the wrong verdict. >> you feel so alone and hopeless. >> it's like a shot in the chest. >> despair to hope. darkness to light. tonight, a fight for freedom in the shadow of justice. life was cheap that night in new york. two brutal murders just a half mile apart. >> here for a homicide crime scene. >> six people were convicted. including eric glisson. >> you think the system works and we're going to beat this. we didn't. >> then, divine intervention through a nun he called grandma. >> eric would say, grandma, i think this is all happening for
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a reason. >> he'd been behind bars for nearly two decades, lost his last appeal. maybe a nun could help him get into heaven but could she help him get out of prison? what she helped him do was get a lawyer and together they hunted for the truth. >> this is one case that kept me up at night for six years. >> he says, i know you're innocent. i know the guys who committed this crime. >> tonight, will justice finally arrive? >> this is my wall of hope. everyone here has been unjustly convicted and freed. >> i'm lester holt and this is "dateline." here's josh mankiewicz. >> sing sing correctional facility. the maximum security prison in new york. this is the big house.
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home to some of the worst of the worst. killers, rapists, drug dealers. >> good morning. >> thank you. >> it is not where you'd expect to find this gentle woman. >> in sing sing, they call me grandma. >> grandma is sister joanna chan, a nun. >> i began working at sing sing more than 12 years ago. this is the battle about general. >> grandma volunteers at the prison, working with inmates in a theater program. she even teaches them chinese. through the years, grandma has helped dozens of men. but she says this inmate here on stage, a convicted killer, has changed her. >> he is just so brave. watching him all these years, i took such courage myself watching him. >> sister joanna remembers the first time she met this inmate.
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he was sitting alone eating. >> he said, my family send me 30 pounds of food. so i said, your family must love you very much. and he said, yes, because they know i'm innocent. and that's how the whole story began. >> a story that began with the unlikely friendship between a nun and a convicted killer would grow into a quest that would shake the faith of those sworn to uphold the law. >> i thought the people innocent, god has to see him through. >> so who is this convicted murderer? he is inmate 97-a-7088. 38-year-old eric glisson. we first met him in the spring of 2012 when a "dateline" producer working on a different story in sing sing met eric in the cell. >> you're going to film me? >> yeah. >> he had been locked up for 18 years. >> you want to see what it's like to live in here?
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i can touch the walls with my hands. >> eric told us he didn't belong here. >> my story is that i'm unjustly convicted for a crime i didn't commit and from february 3rd of 1995 until the present date i've been sitting in here lingering every day wondering whether this mistake will be corrected. >> we've heard that before. many times. but what if he was telling the truth? so, over time -- >> how are you doing, man? >> how did you get up here? >> we began visiting eric. >> what's up? you're looking good. >> and listening to his story. >> when i got arrested i was always under the impression that people who are guilty actually go to jail. i didn't believe that i would be convicted of a crime that i didn't do. >> when police put the cuffs on him in 1995 eric was 20 years old. the brand new father of a 1-week-old baby girl. since then, their only time
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together has been spent in sing sing's visiting room. >> i have a family who i love. and who love me. my daughter, i need to get home to her and be a father. >> eric often shared his story with sister joanna. over time, she felt compelled to do something, anything for him. so she called the only lawyer she knew. >> the first person i could think of was mr. peter cross. >> i trust her judgment. to me it was worth investing my time in. >> attorney peter cross agreed to see if there's truth to eric's story but there was still one problem. this is not the law you normally practice. >> no, not at all. i'm a corporate lawyer. i do corporate litigation. i don't do criminal work. charmaine chester was peter's assistant. this was also new it territory for her. >> out of the blue one day, i get this call. you have a collect call from -- an inmate at sing sing correctional facility. like, okay. >> soon she found herself spending hours on the phone with
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the inmate. >> at first, it was all, you know, business, case, case. by the time you talk to somebody every day, personal things start to slip in. >> friendship. >> friendship. >> in the meantime, her boss was checking out eric's claims of innocence. did you believe at the beginning? >> i'm not going to say i didn't disbelieve him. it's just i'm practicing law for a long time. okay? >> and people lie. >> they certainly color the truth. this is a man who was convicted of murdering someone. so, of course, i approached it with some skepticism. >> once cross learned the facts, he agreed to take eric's case at no charge. representing a man who didn't seem hardened by prison but almost frightened. >> it's terrifying because you can just be walking in the yard and then you could be shanked. that's the life of prison. >> a life he's lived for nearly two decades. a story he was telling us if
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true was as explosive as it was tragic. >> it turns out that the police and the district attorney had all the evidence at their disposal to solve this crime from the beginning. >> not only was eric insisting he was wrongfully convicted, he said others were, too. all of them locked away for life for the same crime. >> five other people, five other people was also convicted of this crime. >> six people. could all of them actually be innocent? >> time now is approximately 7:15. >> to find out, we'll go back almost two decades and take a hard look at how it all began. >> is it possible to get something so important, so wrong, about so many people? when we come back, we investigate what the police didn't to find out what one witness really saw from her window the day of the murder. >> how the detectives could have decided to run with this still shocks me today.
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within the walls of sing sing a convicted murderer has convinced a nun and a corporate lawyer that there's been a terrible miscarriage of justice. eric glisson is in the 18th year of a 25 to life murder sentence. he claims he's innocent. you ever been in prison before this? >> no. >> what's it like to live in prison? >> it's hell. >> 7:22, brutal killing of a fedex recruiter is under investigation. >> eric glisson's nightmare
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began on the night of january 18th, 1995. the new york city detectives lining this hallway in the bronx were entering a crime scene as chilling as it was violent. >> she had three pairs of handcuffs on her wrists. a sock stuffed into her mouth. >> the victim's name was denise raymond. she was an executive with fed-ex. cops videoed the entire scene and anything that might seem important. >> detectives are mystified over the vicious killing of a successful executive. >> the case went to detective tom aiello, a 20-year veteran. he led a team of detectives who worked through the night knocking on doors and collecting evidence. as the sun rose the next morning some of the cops turned their attention to another murder, another bloody crime scene. this is the video police recorded of that second murder scene. it was seemingly unrelated but just a half mile away in the same precinct. this was a busy night for the murder business in the bronx.
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>> time now is approximately 7:15 a.m. on january 19th, 1995. >> this time, a livery cab driver of baithe diop slumped over his steering wheel shot multiple times, the victim of an apparent robbery. the driver's money and cell phone were missing. the investigation of the cab driver's murder would be headed by 31-year-old detective mike donnelly working alongside detective aiello. the two detectives donnelly and aiello ended up putting their heads and cases together, concluding the same group of several people committed both murders. >> did you know the other people? >> i knew two of them. >> these are good friends of yours? >> acquaintances. >> february 4th, 1995. >> one of those guys was 19-year-old michael cosme, the first suspect arrested. >> i have one thing to say, though. i'm innocent. i didn't do it. i wasn't there.
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>> eric was also questioned at the precinct where he adamantly denied knowing anything about either killing. >> please don't blame me for something i have not done. why is this happening to me? i don't know what's going on. i just want to be with my daughter. if i knew what took place that night, if i knew who did anything, i would tell you. >> i'm going to give you your rights one last time. >> i would tell you. i would do anything. >> detectives did not believe him. eric glisson and five others were arrested for both murders. >> originally you were charged with both murders, denise raymond murder and cab driver murder. >> yes. >> but by time the time eric went to trial, prosecutors dropped charges in him against the denise raymond case citing lack of evidence. so what evidence was there against him in the cab driver case? really pretty simple. there was a witness against him. her name -- miriam tavares. tavares told the cops she looked out her window and saw it all. eric and the others smack in the
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middle of the cab driver robbery that ended in murder. is it possible that miriam saw you commit a crime? >> no. >> not any crime? >> i wasn't there. >> bad blood between you and miriam? >> yes. bad blood. >> eric says he had a brief sexual relationship with miriam that did not end well. >> you have a fling with a girl and then you just cut it off abruptly, she may feel slighted. >> slighted enough to make you a murder suspect? >> i guess so. >> whatever her motivation, the question is, how reliable was she as a witness? all these years later, eric finally had someone to take another look at miriam's story. attorney peter cross. >> there's no doubt that this woman was lying. i went out to the crime scene and she could not possibly have seen what she said occurred. >> so what could miriam really see? here's the problem with miriam's story. from that police video, we know
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this is where the cab came to rest. we also know the shooting happened a couple of car lengths back, sort of where that red suv is. we know a man in that building called 911 when he heard the shots and he said he saw only one person running away from the scene. now, a couple of weeks later, miriam tavares comes forward. she lives in that building over there. now you're looking at me from outside the window miriam said she saw all of this happen. this has to be easily 100 yards away. and she says she saw six people from the neighborhood commit the crime. she says she heard what they said and she saw what they stole. and she said she saw all of it looking through this bathroom window. the only problem is, if you go back to where the shooting actually happened, it's pretty clear miriam couldn't have seen anything at all. >> she said from the bathroom window she heard these conversations going on inside the car. i mean, it's just incredible testimony.
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>> but what disturbed cross even more detective donnelly never looked at the crime scene from the perspective you just did. wouldn't that sort of be standard operating procedure to check out what witnesses say? >> you would think so. i think they got on the horse early on in this case and they rode that horse and they weren't going to change direction. >> we wanted to speak with miriam tavares. she died of a drug overdose in 2002. other than her testimony, there was no physical evidence, no forensics, no prints, nothing, that tied eric or the others to the cab driver's murder. even so, detectives donnelly and aiello went with what they had and closed both murder cases. within three weeks, they arrested their suspects and the bronx district attorney tried them. in all, six people were convicted. we'll call them the bronx six. five men and a woman. all sent away facing 25 to life. one of them was eric glisson.
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what's it like to hear that verdict read? >> it's like a shot in the chest. it's like your heart just melts. just dissolves. you actually think that, you know, they read the wrong verdict. that this can't be true. >> the nypd was quite proud of detectives donnelly and aiello's work, so proud that five months after the arrests, the department allowed the detectives to be featured in "new york" magazine about how they amazingly cracked the cases. >> how the detectives could have believed that and decided to run with this and send them to jail for the rest of their lives on the basis of this garbage still shocks me today. >> all these years later, attorney cross knew his opinion of the detective work in this case wasn't going to free eric glisson or anyone else. >> i think the only kind of evidence that's going to sway a court is if we can point to who the real killers are. >> that was quite a lot to hope
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for. but from behind bars, eric glisson was already on the trail. >> i got some documents and so i see this guy's name keeps coming up. a surprise visitor and an answered prayer. >> he said, i'm sorry. i know you're innocent. i know the guys who committed this crime. >> when "dateline" continues.
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these are the people we're calling the bronx six, five men and a woman. all convicted and sent away for 25 years to life for committing murder. all insisted they were innocent. we met one of them, eric glisson, in sing sing, where from behind bars he'd been trying to get answers ever since he was locked up. >> i've been fighting these people for years. asking for documents which they deny me at every turn. >> they're not going to convict me for something that i didn't do and just expect me to accept it. i'm going to fight to the end. i'm a fighter. i die on my feet, not on my knees.
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>> as the years passed, eric took college courses offered by the prison. he learned about the law and fought his case. >> how did he get that evidence in his possession? >> the courts denied all his appeals. >> i don't -- i don't have any appeals left. nothing. >> it was a lonely fight and then in 2006 he met sister joanna chan in one of the prison's programs, the woman he calls grandma. >> there's particular dark time. he would say, grandma, it's really hard. >> i told grandma, i just lost my last appeal. i don't know what i'm going to do. >> i always say let's keep the faith and let's go and pray and i said, we have many, many sisters praying with you. >> sister joanna offered more than just her prayers. that's when she brought in peter cross who was now fighting for eric on the outside. >> so you have detective donnelly as the officer assigned. >> yes.
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>> with eric as his guide, cross got up to speed. to have any chance of having another day in court eric knew he'd need powerful evidence, evidence of actual innocence. he started thinking. if he and the other five co-defendants had nothing to do with the two murders, then who did? after more than a decade of trying, finally, some of eric's requests for documents in his case began trickling in. >> i came across one document which had my name as well as my other co-defendants and one name stood out, it was an individual i found out was part of a gang called sex, money, murder. >> eric was on to an important lead. sex, money, murder. even veteran cops knew those three words meant danger, a notorious gang from the soundview section of the bronx. >> 1997, october, sex, money, murder became my assignment. >> he was an nypd detective assigned to take down the gang.
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>> this was all sex, money, murder territory? >> yeah. we are in the heart of it. >> while investigating the gang, an informant told him details of a crime the gang members had committed. >> there was a cab driver who had been killed in the vicinity of soundview. >> he went to the 43rd precinct in the south bronx to see if there was any truth to the story. >> early 1998, walked in the precinct. went up stairs, walked into the detective squad room. >> you go in there and say what do you know about a murder. >> i want to know about a cab driver murder in soundview or the area around soundview. >> and the response? >> nothing that fit that description. >> but the informant insisted the murder did happen. >> you didn't only make one trip to the 43rd precinct. >> made two. again, came out saying we have nothing that fits that description. >> any reason the police department wouldn't tell you the truth? >> well, i thought about that. >> he says the answer might be simple. as far as the nypd was concerned, this homicide was solved. closed.
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>> the detective may have looked only in the open homicide drawer and never bothered to even look to see if there was anything other than an unsolved homicide that fit that description. >> as far as you know, that's the end of it. i moved on. >> he soon retired from the nypd not knowing six people had already been convicted. in the meantime eric was stuck in prison. it wasn't until 2012, 14 years later, that he hit pay dirt and it came in the form of cell phone records. remember, the cab driver's cell phone had been stolen by whoever killed him. >> i found hundreds of calls after his death. >> the records showed the first call was made from the victim's phone minutes after the shooting. the numbers called traced back to relatives of two sex, money, murder gang members named jose rodriguez and gilbert vega. eric believed he finally had evidence showing who the real killers were. >> it took me 16, 17 years to
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get those through freedom of information. >> they were never provided to the defense? >> no. it turns out that the police and the district attorney had all the evidence at their disposal to solve this crime from the beginning. >> so he wrote a letter to the u.s. attorney proclaiming his innocence and detailing the information he'd found out about the sex, money, murder gang. it was a hail mary pass. in an amazing stroke of luck, eric's letter landed on this man's desk. his name, john o'malley, an investigator for the u.s. attorney in new york. days after reading eric's letter, o'malley made a personal trip to see eric in sing sing. >> immediately, john o'malley just stood up and he asked me. did you write this letter? i said, yes. he shook my hand and said i'm sorry. i said, sorry for what? he says, you know, i know you're innocent. when he said that, i said, what are you talking about, sir?
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he said, listen. i know the guys who committed this crime. >> how did o'malley know? it turns out, o'malley worked with the detective forselli on the gang case ten years earlier and back then the two gang members, jose and gilbert actually confessed the cab driver shooting to o'malley. >> he said, when i read this letter, everything just came back to me from that day. i put it altogether. when these guys confessed to me. >> o'malley didn't want to appear on camera but told us he also checked with the nypd after getting those confessions back in 2002, and like detective forselli before him, o'malley was told there was no record of the crime. after getting eric's letter in 2012, o'malley addressed the court in a sworn affidavit stating that eric glisson and the others were innocent of the cab driver's shooting. armed with that kind of statement, you'd think eric would be literally home free. you'd be wrong.
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coming up, eric glisson isn't giving up. >> this is my wall of hope. everyone here has been unjustly convicted and freed. >> will his own picture ever be on it? >> tears welled up in my eyes. ♪ ♪ ♪ geico motorcycle, great rates for great rides. don'go see my big fatake windowgreek wedding 2clear! and learn how to use windex the right way on weird stuff! not on windows!
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for the first time in his 18-year struggle to prove that he didn't pull a trigger eric glisson finally had his hands on a smoking gun. an affidavit from a federal investigator saying eric was innocent. >> he asked me, do i have an attorney? i told him, yeah. i said, i promise you i'll call this lawyer today. >> so i was standing online in a bank. >> peter cross remembers that phone call. >> mr. o'malley tells me, peter, i'm with the u.s. attorney's
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office. we know your client is innocent. that was such an emotional moment for me. i was like, tears welled up in my eyes right in font of the teller. >> i thank god every day for john o'malley. when i looked in that man's eyes, you know, i see a man who had integrity. i saw a man who was honest. >> o'malley's affidavit was enough for the bronx d.a. to reopen the case. and to get in front of a judge. but that would take time. two more months. but now at least eric had reason to hope and in his cell he assembled a little photo gallery of those who have been exonerated. >> this is my wall of hope. everyone here has been unjustly convicted and freed. >> on august 5th, 2012, eric's lawyer goes to court. >> this is our first appearance to try to get the judgment vacated. >> cross is joined by his assistant charmaine chester.
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by now, they have worked on the case for six years. >> i want to see him out. i told him the last time i went up to sing sing, i'm not visiting you here again. this is it. >> finally, cross argues his case to the judge. >> my client has spent 17 years plus in jail for a crime he hasn't committed. >> it doesn't go down like a hollywood script. prosecutors do not admit there's been a terrible mistake. >> your honor, we'll be seeking an extension of the time to answer those questions. >> how much of an extension are the people seeking? >> just -- your honor, 30 days. >> another month. cross is frustrated. >> he told me they were starting the investigation in june looking into this matter. i was able to get my papers ready and it seems to me that another couple of weeks should be enough to get a response to the motion. >> you have heard the saying that the wheels of justice grind slowly? now you've got a front-row seat. >> we have been trying to put together facts and circumstances surrounding this now 15-year-old trial.
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>> is there any point in time you make the determination that you're going to concede, i will advances the case. >> translation -- this isn't going to end today. eric stays in prison. but two weeks later, peter cross heads to sing sing. earlier that morning he'd gotten a call from the d.a.'s office and he has good news for eric. >> i received a call from the d.a. in the bronx telling me that they're ready to make a deal. >> i'm going up now to see eric, to talk to him about the conditions for his release. >> eric's used to visits from his lawyer. >> good to see you. >> and very used to keeping his own hopes -- >> looking good. >> thank you. >> -- on ice. >> get you out of the yard? >> yeah. i was working out, running, jogging. >> you know i wouldn't be coming up here -- >> cross wants to make sure this sinks in and so he slowly reveals the details. >> i was very surprised today. look.
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i got a call from ed pulte today saying that we have a proposal for you. the d.a. is now prepared to give you a conditional dismissal of the indictment and vacate the conviction. >> today? >> not going to be today. but it will be by the 13th i think. >> wow. >> do you believe that? >> well, it hasn't set in yet. >> i know. >> the initial shock. >> i know. >> all the fighting we have done over these years. >> yeah. >> um -- i don't know what to say right now. >> but, unfortunately for eric, a month later he's still behind bars. >> these people just don't want to let me go. they want to continue to hold me and torture me. you know, the mental trauma i'm
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going through right now because of this, i'm wondering whether, you know, they may renege on this agreement. >> as excruciating as the hours are eric shares with us something beyond that wall of hope that's helped him wake up every morning. >> there's a bench by the water that each time i go to the barbershop i look at that bench and i wonder if i'll ever be able to look from down there up here. that's been one of my main goals while i was in here, to sit on that bench while i was a free man. >> coming up -- will eric glisson ever get to sit on that bench? he finally gets his day in court. >> we have the decision to take this unprecedented and exceptional step. >> when "dateline" continues. alright kiddos! everybody off the backpack, we made it to the ottoman. i like to watch them clean,
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eric's been transferred from sing sing and is waiting in a holding cell in the bronx county courthouse. >> apparently the court officers were advised -- >> it's a long, painful road for lawyer peter cross. >> this one case kept me up at night for six years because i knew we had to find, really like the one-armed man to get him out of jail. >> eric walks into the courtroom. >> number 4 and 5 on the calendar, eric glisson. kathie watkins. >> standing next to him is cathy watkins, the only woman of the bronx six. like eric, she was tried only for the cab driver's murder and in 1997 they went on trial together. eric says he doesn't know her now and didn't know her then. >> when trial started, the officers bringing us up to the court and one of the officer's says this is watkinss. i said, cathy watkins? she said, who are you? i said, i'm eric glisson. how are you involved this?
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she says, i don't know. how are you involved? i don't know. we both didn't know. we was confused. >> now 18 years later, assistant district attorney nicole keary's office believes there may have been an injustice but only agrees to release glisson and watkins if they wear monitoring bracelets as the d.a.'s office continues to investigate. >> we have made a decision to take this unprecedented exceptional step that we are going to consent the conditional vacating of the conviction for these two defendants and the conditions being that the defendants do wear those electronic monitoring bracelets. >> all that's left now is for the judge to make it official. >> the record will reflect that the conditional vacater of the conviction as to mr. glissson and miss watkins is granted and each defendant is released on their own recognizance. [ applause ]
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>> eric's friends and family and the news media are waiting for him outside. and now, for the first time in nearly two decades, eric glisson is about to take his first steps as a free man. >> eric, what is your emotion right now? >> this is the major point in my life and i worked hard. i persevered. and with effort and determination i'm standing here before you. >> now, it's his co-defendant cathy watkin's turn also wrongfully convicted. >> 17 years. >> almost 18. >> she was 29 when she went away. now she is 46. >> i didn't do it. i didn't do it. 100% innocent.
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i'm innocent. this is what the system did to me. innocent all the way. >> by january 2013, the convictions for the rest of the bronx six were overturned. for both the cab driver murder and fed-ex executive denise raymond. this is carlos perez, 25 when he was locked up. >> i even wrote -- to 1995. clinton, bush, i don't know. clinton. mr. president, i'm innocent. nobody listened. >> davon ayers. he was 19 when he was convicted. >> spent all of my 20s and most of my 30s there and trying to get on with life as i know it as today. >> and michael cosme. remember him? >> i only have one thing to say. i'm innocent. i didn't do it. i wasn't there. >> this is michael today. 18 years later. finally, someone believed him.
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and while we now know those two gang members confessed to the cab driver murder, fed-ex executive denise raymond's killer or killers have never been brought to justice. we wanted to speak to someone from the nypd or the bronx district attorney's office but both declined comment citing the multiple civil suits they face as the bronx six seek millions in damages against new york city. and those two detectives, don donnelly and aiello who were portrayed as super sleuths back in 1995, are now both retired and didn't have anything to say to us. but in court filings, attorneys for the city of new york deny that either detective threatened witnesses or falsified statements. and point out that several juries heard the witnesses' testimony at the time and believed them. as for eric, it's finally a new day and a new life. one full of amazing discoveries.
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>> hello? >> no, no. upside down. >> huh? coming up, no prison bars. no prison guards. and doors he can open himself. eric glisson's first night of freedom in almost 20 years. >> wow! and a reunion with a woman who helped him win it. >> oh my god! grandma. ♪
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this way. >> listen, man. >> it's october 22nd, 2012. after living in a prison cell for 18 years, eric glisson is finally a free man. >> turning down to shelby pier. >> and we are by his side as he experiences all of it. >> oh! i seen this in the magazine.
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>> eric's first few hours of freedom -- >> hello? >> are part exhilaration. >> hello? >> part discovery. >> hello? >> he's never actually used a cell phone. >> yeah. where's cynthia? hello? >> you have it upside down, eric. >> hello. >> no, no, upside down. like this? >> hello? huh? can you hear me now? like the commercial? that was my first cell phone call. first cell phone call. >> his first meal? lamb chops. >> wow. it's like jumping up out of a coffin and walking, you know. like being read your last rights
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and all of a sudden a miracle happens. some doctor that just comes walking in the room and knows exactly how to resuscitate you. you're back living again and you're back out in society an you're wondering, you know, will they accept you? yeah. you see? >> on his first night of freedom, eric's lawyer treats him to a hotel room. >> i have a key that's a plastic card. wow. oh, this is excellent. holy -- wow. got to be at least a 46-inch tv. bed. wow. i used to sleep on a metal frame and now i'm on a comfortable
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bed. >> but the real joy for eric is reuniting with his daughter cynthia. >> ready, set, go. >> she was just a week old when he was arrested. now she's nearly 18. >> you cheated. you cheated. >> shh. >> and that degree he began working on behind bars? eric started taking classes again two days after his release. and finally, received that long awaited diploma from mercy college. today, a fully exonerated eric glisson is a businessman. an entrepreneur. >> i'm doing everything single handedly. all of the reconstruction of the ceiling.
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going to be four tables. >> on the one-year anniversary of his release, eric opened a fresh juice business that he built himself named fresh take. >> afternoon, sir. how are you doing? >> nice place you have here. >> thanks. >> where did you get fresh take? >> i knew that i had a fresh take on life. i'm free now. i'm no longer the victim. i'm the victor. i won. >> you seem to have come through this remarkably free of bitterness and anger or you're hiding it very well. >> well, i don't have any animosity against anybody at this point. except the people who raised the prices. because the strawberry's the primary thing. >> that's crime. >> yeah, it is a crime. i mean -- >> eric has a business partner. someone he met when he was still locked up. >> he's become my brother. >> it's charmaine chester,
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his lawyer's assistant. >> i call him my bratty little brother and i'm the annoying older sister. >> they opened their store in late 2013. eric says he loves it. >> pivotal point in my life. taught -- gave me a lot of tools. >> on this day, we had a little surprise for him. he hasn't seen sister joanna chan since he's been released. the woman that put eric on a quest for freedom all those days -- years ago. >> working together collectively. oh my god! oh my god! oh my god! grandma. grandma. oh my god. >> god bless you. >> thank you. oh my god. they told me you were in china. >> i was. >> eric has now been a free man for more than three years.
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>> it's rough. it's not the walk in to the sunset that everyone expects. it's events that took place in my life that will be with me forever. i can't unshake them. >> and he said he's not the only one who's been having a hard time. >> like especially with my daughter, cynthia, our relationship has been strained. still sense a lot of resentment of my absence for a major part of her life. >> but now, there's a new person for whom eric can be fully present. cynthia has a new sister. meet baby scarlet. >> i have a second chance to raise a daughter. to be in her life. to take her to the park. horsey back rides. you know? all of the kisses. and hopefully one day give her hand away in marriage. there's no price for that. >> and what's the price for
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unjustly spending 18 years in prison? eric and the rest of the bronx six all filed lawsuits against both the state and city of new york for their wrongful convictions. the state settled, each of the original defendants was awarded $3.9 million. the lawsuit against the city of new york is still pending. there was one last thing we wanted to do with eric. remember that bench eric could see from inside sing sing? not too long after his release we took him back there. and watched him finally make good on that promise to himself. to get that other view of the prison. this time, from the outside.
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that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for this sunday, terror in brussels. after another horrific isis attack on yet another european capital. are major intelligence failings putting more lives at risk? >> this country seems overwhelmed by the scale of the threat. >> we'll have the latest from a city on edge. plus, the trump effect. the republican race devolves even further, if that was possible, with a trump-cruz feud over the candidates' wives. >> donald, you're a sniveling coward and leave heidi the hell alone. >> is this now the new normal? also, convention chaos. >> the delegates are not bound to vote according to the results of the primary. >> how the republican establishment can deny donald trump the nomination no matter how many states he wins. one of the candidates who hopes to benefit, john

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